This week, we read about the revivals that took place in East Africa from the 1920s to the 1970s. Honestly, I had no idea before reading this chapter. And still, I am a bit confused as to what all happened. Much of the revival that happened came through the ministry of Dr. Joe Church, a medical missionary from England. It took a while till he saw much fruit from his ministry, but over time, people were being saved continuously. In Rwanda in 1935, he encouraged the medical staff to get up at 5:00 a.m. for prayer. "They politely informed him that they were already meeting two hours before sunrise to pray" (124). As I read that, I was encouraged that when God moves, even my highest thoughts of sacrifice are mere shallow.
For Church, the revival that took place was because of a high emphasis upon the gospel. He said, "Revival for them is the blessing of the gospel continuously; the same grace that meets the sinner when he first comes to Christ is ministered to his heart unceasingly all through his Christian life" (126).
Probably what impacted me the most in this chapter was how revival took place, the gospel went forth amidst extreme persecution. In Uganda, the first missionaries entered the country in 1877. The authors report the persecution of Christians in this way:
"Almost from the beginning, martyrdom was the likely cost of conversion for new Christians. Only eight years after Christianity came to Uganda, a suspicious king ordered the murder of the first Anglican bishop sent from England. That same year, 1885, three boys ranging from eleven to fifteen years old became the first native Ugandan Christians killed for their faith. But they would be far from the last." (131)As I read that and thought about those young boys, I couldn't help but think about heaven. I would love to meet those boys someday and ask them if it was worth it. I think I know what their answer is going to be, don't you?
In 1977, the president of Uganda, Idi Amin, began persecuting Christians. "Hundreds of thousands of Christians died under his rule. But try as he might, Amin could not stop God from turning his murderous prisons into revival halls . . . A church already broken by its own sin and desperate need for a Savior is better positioned to withstand attack" (132-3).
So, what about us? We celebrate the safety and religious freedom we have here in America. Don't get me wrong, I love this country. I love the fact that I get to preach every Sunday under the 1st Amendment and don't have to worry about it. But what would happen if we were no longer free to preach the gospel? What do you think would happen to the gospel?
Do you think it would be stopped or would it flourish?